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  • Writer's pictureNaomi Pohl

Pushing the Union Forward

As I embark on my campaign to be the next MU General Secretary, I have been reflecting on some of the work started by the current Secretariat and Executive Committee (EC) over the past few years. There are some excellent initiatives that I would want to take forward and many areas for further development.

I want to be clear that I see myself both as a stability candidate – taking forward much of the work we’ve done in recent years to secure the Union’s future – and also a change candidate. There is much work I want to do to ensure we are the best possible Union for our members; representing their interests robustly, making them proud to belong and constantly evolving to take account of changes in the music industry and wider world.

Here are three areas where we have improved what we do during my time in the Secretariat:

1. We have set out to raise the profile of our campaigning work in order to address issues of importance to musicians and highlight the value of the Union. I think we have done this very successfully, particularly in our work on Brexit, #FixStreaming and sexual harassment.

2. We have focused on recruitment and retention of members as well as working towards the Union operating on its subscriptions income alone. Our General Secretary Horace Trubridge launched the Join for £1 initiative which has played its part in taking us from 30,000 members to 32,000. We are growing the Union, which is fantastic. We must build on our history and ensure we have a bright future.

3. We have opened up the work of the EC and started to forge better links between the EC and Regional Committees. This has been important for transparency of the EC’s work but also to build relationships between EC members and RC members. It has also been an important step that we are taking EC meetings out of London more often, as a step towards us becoming less London-centric. We could do this with the Section Committees as well moving forward.

As the next MU General Secretary, I would continue this work because I believe it is changing the Union for the better.

Here are three key areas where I would like to improve what we do:

1. We must focus on members’ pay post-pandemic. We must build back our agreements and minimum rates as we come out of Covid and this will rely on us having full Committees and negotiating teams that include activists wherever possible. We will also need to ensure we have good relationships with employers and engagers across the Sector so that we can rebuild post-pandemic in collaboration and tackle difficult discussions around pay and conditions head on. I believe I have the track record, profile among members and relationships to deliver on this.

2. We must ensure our activists’ voices are heard throughout the Union. Members should be inspired to get involved because it is evident that MU activists can influence policy and make change happen within the Union and in the industry beyond. We must give our activists every chance to contribute to our work, we must listen and when policy changes as a result of activism then we should shout about it. I want to showcase our activists and what they’ve achieved through their engagement with us.

3. We must respond to the climate emergency. The MU has recently published its first Environmental and Ethical Policy with my involvement and that of key colleagues across the Union: This is a great start and sets out our intentions to be more environmentally friendly and socially responsible. We are also signing up to Julie’s Bicycle’s Creative Green community: Our work in this area could go so much further and we could also do more to assist members in greening their own work. My next step is to look at our pensions and investments to see how we can make more environmentally friendly, sustainable and ethical choices there.

I have many more ideas for change so watch this space…

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